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When winter storms in, it's your job to make sure your baby stays warm and dry. But if you're like most new parents, dealing with a squirmy baby in a bulky jacket, blankets that fall off, and a diaper bag may sound like a huge hassle. Here are some tips and products that can help make it easier to keep your baby healthy and comfortable when it's cold outside, whether you're going grocery shopping or tucking your child in for the night.
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Keeping your baby warm
The basics, indoors and out
There's no way around it – if you're planning to head out the door with your baby on cold winter days, you need an early start. You have a lot to assemble, and your baby just may not want to cooperate.
First and foremost, layers are key to keeping your baby warm but not too warm. (The general rule is to dress your baby in one more layer than an adult would wear to be comfortable.) Depending on how cold it is, you could use a bodysuit for that first layer, with a sweater or jacket over that, then a coat on top, mittens, and a hat. If you're going to be popping in and out of grocery stores or the mall, you want to be able to easily remove a layer (or two or three) so your baby doesn't overheat.
As long as the weather isn't too unfriendly, it's good for your baby to get some fresh air every day, whether it's in a stroller, carrier, or backpack. Just keep in mind that while you're working up a sweat exercising, your baby is just sitting exposed to the cold – and she'll get chilly well before you do. Be sensitive to your baby's nonverbal signals. If your baby is happy to be out at first but starts fussing after a while, she may be trying to tell you that she's cold. It's a good idea to check little fingers, toes, ears, and face regularly, and head inside before your baby gets uncomfortable.
If you spend a lot of time in the wintry outdoors, you'll want wind- and water-resistant outerwear that will keep your baby snug and dry even in the coldest temperatures. Look for gear with a good layer of insulation and a water-repellent exterior fabric such as fleece, flannel, or fiberfill.
If you're going somewhere by car, remove any bulky layers before putting your baby in the car seat. You don't want your baby to get too warm, or for clothing to interfere with car-seat straps, which must be snug to work safely. You can always buckle your baby in and then tuck a blanket around her for warmth.
At night things can get a bit more complicated, because sleeping with blankets isn't recommended for babies under a year old. To reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), experts say to put your baby to sleep on her back without any pillows or coverings at all, and don't overheat the room. The solution is to layer up on safe alternatives like warm pajamas, wearable blankets, and fuzzy flannel fitted sheets.
Finally, consider that the chill wind outside and dry heat indoors can zap moisture from the hardiest of skins – and your baby's delicate skin is especially vulnerable. You may want to apply moisturizer at bedtime every night and before layering up to go outside. Pediatricians recommend that you use a lotion without perfume or dyes for newborns, and avoid bathing your baby too often or using too much soap, which can be drying. A humidifier can also help soothe baby skin during the cold months.
Here are some of our favorite products for keeping babies warm and comfy when it's cold outside.
Trend Lab Winter Woods Flannel Fitted Crib Sheet
The most snuggly sheet
Keeping your baby warm – but not too warm – at night can be a little tricky, but a great base is a warm flannel fitted sheet for your baby's crib. This version from Trend Lab is soft, cozy, and inexpensive enough to buy in multiples; you'll want to keep extras on hand for changes so you don't have to run emergency laundry loads.
Available at Amazon starting at $14.22
Simple Joys by Carter's Footed Sleep and Play
Comfy and cozy for nighttime
Soft, one-piece footed sleepers help your baby stay warm and comfortable at night by keeping him covered from neck to toe. For an extra layer, put a bodysuit or undershirt underneath the sleeper. If it's very cold, consider pairing a cotton or terry sleeper with a micro-fleece sleep sack or a micro-fleece sleeper with a cotton sleep sack so your baby is warm but not overheated.
Available at Amazon starting at $24.49 for a 3-pack
Halo Sleep Sack
A safe alternative to blankies
A terrific and safe alternative to a traditional blanket, wearable blankets provide a warm top layer that won't get tangled around your baby or cover your baby's face. The Halo SleepSack is sleeveless, so your baby can still move his arms around while the rest of his body stays covered. It unzips from the bottom to make nighttime diaper changes easier, and comes in various cute designs and fabrics. Pair a micro-fleece SleepSack with footed jammies and you can be confident that your baby will stay warm through the night.
Available at Amazon starting at $21.99
KYTE Baby Bodysuit
Silky soft and breathable
Layering is key to keeping your bundle of joy, well, bundled! KYTE baby bodysuits are a perfect base layer for your baby's winter wardrobe because they're soft, cozy, and breathable. That's thanks to their materials: 97 percent bamboo and 3 percent spandex. They come in packs of two in many complementary colors.
Available at Amazon starting at $35.99 for a 2-pack
Simple Joys by Carter's Baby Fleece Footed Jumpsuit
An easy-on, easy-off outer layer
A snowsuit or bunting provides a great buffer against the cold and snow. Parents say this fleece footed jumpsuit from Carter's is soft and easy to use, and keeps babies cozy. Once your baby is dressed for the day, you can add this jumpsuit as an extra layer just before you head out the door or get out of the car (since it's not safe to put your baby in bulky layers in the car seat).
Available at Amazon starting at $19.99
Zutano Cozie Baby Fleece Hat
Warm and extra cute
A soft hat will help keep your baby's precious noggin warm and should protect his or her ears. Finding one that is well made and that will last the whole season is key. Zutano's Cozie fleece hat is a parent fave because it's warm without being heavy, and it stays on better than most. It comes in 23 beautiful colors, from pink to orange to apple green.
Available at Amazon starting at $9
Bearington Baby Lil' Spout Cuddle Me Sleeper
A blanket and lovey in one
Although your baby shouldn't have a blanket in the crib or bassinet, this coziness factor is useful to have at other times! You can tuck one around your strapped-in baby in the car seat while the car warms up or use it to add an extra layer for walks in the stroller. The Bearington Baby Lil' Spout Sleeper is warm and snuggly, and has a built-in friend your baby will be happy to cuddle with.
Available at Amazon starting at $25.99
JJ Cole Original Bundleme Bunting Bag
Warmth on the go
Chilly days call for a little extra ammunition. This ingenious bunting bag attaches safely to a car seat or stroller, so it's so easy to pop your baby in and zip it up like a sleeping bag. If things warm up, you can remove the top so your baby doesn't get too hot. The Bundleme works well with safety straps on a car seat or stroller and is machine-washable.
Available at Amazon starting at $34.95
Hello Bello Baby Lotion
Keeps sensitive skin happy
When your baby has itchy, irritated winter skin, reach for a gentle lotion. Hello Bello lotions are rich and creamy but not greasy, and come in lovely scents: vanilla apricot is our favorite for daytime, and lavender is a bedtime go-to. (Note: Wait until your baby is past the newborn stage to use scented lotions.)
Available at Walmart starting at $5.98
The Honest Company Everyday Gentle Shampoo and Body Wash
Mild soap locks in moisture
Soap and water can dry your baby's skin, so don't overdo baths in the winter months – a bath every other day should suffice. When you do bathe your baby, use a mild soap like the Honest Company Everyday Gentle Shampoo and Body Wash. To protect delicate baby skin, use warm (not hot) water, don't let your baby soak too long in the tub, and pat (don't rub) your baby's skin to dry it.
Available at Target starting at $8.99
Thinkbaby Sunscreen SPF 50+
Not just for summertime
Even the milder winter sun can damage skin. If your baby is under 6 months old, try to keep her out of the sun completely or protect her skin with hats, clothing, and stroller and car seat canopies. If she's older than 6 months, dab a little sunscreen on any parts that might be exposed, like her nose and cheeks. The best sunscreens for babies are made with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide (these ingredients physically block the sun). We love the Thinkbaby SPF 50+ because it doesn't feel greasy, it rubs in easily, it's gentle on the skin, and it smells good.
Available at Target starting at $12.99
Crane Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier
Combats dry winter air
Using a cool-mist humidifier in the room where your baby sleeps can help keep his nasal passages moist – which makes for a healthier, more comfortable baby. The Crane Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier allows you to set the humidity level where you want it. It's whisper-quiet, easy to clean, and can run for 24 hours, a win-win-win for busy moms and sleepy babies.
Available at Amazon starting at $39.99